New Winter Olympics Events

Learn the rules, lingo, and top competitors

Eight events debut this year — one of which, snowboard slopestyle, has airdogs looking like chumples: Norwegian Torstein Horgmo face-planted and left on a stretcher; a not-so-stoked Shaun White couldn’t rip and dropped out altogether.

Confused? Take our crash course. But hurry — the opening ceremony is tonight. In the words of Zack Morris, “That’s why we’re Russian you.”

new olympic events!

Snowboard Slopestyle
The basics: Boys and girls tackle an obstacle course with three jibs and three jumps.
Think: X Games skateboarding.
Scoring: Three phases (qualification, semifinals, finals), two runs per phase. Results calculated on the best of two runs. Judged on trickery (amplitude, landing, difficulty). Highest-scoring run in final phase wins.
Verbiage: Jib (the railing), rip (good run), airdog (boarder who loves jumps).
Our favorite: Shaun White’s out. So all eyes on you, Canadian Mark McMorris.

Ski Half-Pipe
The basics: 30 men, 24 ladies, one half-pipe, countless death-defying tricks.
Think: Skiers channeling the Flying Tomato.
Scoring: One phase, meaning two runs; best run counts. Judged on execution, amplitude, variety, difficulty, and use of pipe. Twelve advance to finals. Judges scores are averaged; highest score wins.
Verbiage: Lip (top wall of the pipe), airs (tricks over the lip), fakie (skier goes backward).
Our favorite: David Wise, two-time reigning Winter X Games champ.

new olympic events!

Figure Skating Team Event
The basics: Six sequin-clad skaters (boy, girl, pair, ice-dance couple) reenact The Cutting Edge. And the comp’s already underway.
Think: The Fab Five on ice with dudes.
Scoring: Team with highest aggregated points takes gold.
Verbiage: Salchow (fancy spin jump), lutz (toe-pick jump), Brian Boitano (duh).
Our favorite: Newly crowned sweetheart/18-year-old Gracie Gold. But the ice-dancing rivalry between teams USA and Canada is the stuff of legend.

Snowboard Parallel Slalom
The basics: Head-to-head race down identical tracks.
Think: SSX Tricky IRL.
Scoring: First (wo)man to the bottom wins.
Verbiage: Chumples (kid with no skillz).
Our favorite: Everyone loves a comeback story. American Justin Reiter, shut out of Vancouver in 2010 on account of a knee injury, heads to Sochi, ready for gold.

new olympic events!

Ski Slopestyle
The basics: See above — on a longer course.
Think: X Games skateboarding — on two boards.
Scoring: Two phases, two runs per phase; best run counts. Twelve advance to the finals. Highest averaged score wins.
Verbiage: Twin-tip skis (skis with both ends turned up), terrain park (obstacle course).
Our favorite: Maggie Voisin. Why? She’s from Montana, she’s 15, and she’s kicking ass.

Ladies’ Ski Jumping
The basics: Bitches be airborne. But, really, it’s about time. Men have been airborne since 1924.
Think: A bunch of Flying Vs (see below and get your head out of the gutter).
Scoring: Distance (start with 60 points; add two points for every meter jumped beyond 95; lose two points for every meter under 95) + style (five judges score out of 20; top and bottom scores discarded; remaining three totaled) = score.
Verbiage: Inrun (the drop-in before takeoff), the V (in-air ski position).
Our favorite: Jessica Jerome, the first woman to clinch a spot.

new olympic events!

Luge Team Relay
The basics: One male and one female luger followed by a doubles team fly down the course at almost 100 miles per hour.
Think: Sledding on steroids.
Scoring: Each athlete has to reach up and hit the track-pad sensor to trigger the next leg. Fastest total team time wins.
Verbiage: Double luge (two-man sled), supine position (lying face up), kuffen (allow steering), labyrinth.
Our favorite: USA, all the way.

Biathlon Mixed Relay
The basics: Coed athletes cross-country ski then shoot at things.
Think: The premise of every Russian spy novel.
Scoring: First one to the finish line wins, but missed targets lead to penalty laps.
Verbiage: Laura (name of the complex), small-bore rifle (the gun), prone position (lying face down).
Our favorite: The home team has serious advantage, but we’re cheering for fellow spectator Tracy Barnes, who gave up her spot on the Olympic team so her sister, Lanny, could compete.

Tune in to the opening ceremony, tonight, at 7:30 p.m. EST, on NBC. For more Olympics frenzy, get to know our Guest List editor, Nastia Liukin, who’s broadcasting live from Sochi.

Photos: Getty Images